Courtesy Appen Newspapers
MILTON — As the sagging economy was at the forefront of everyone's minds throughout the year, it came as only some surprise when Milton decided to end its contract with Sandy Springs-based CH2M HILL OMI, the company hired to staff the city upon incorporation.
There were a number of reasons for the split, the least of which was certainly not financial. According to budget numbers released by the city, in fiscal year 2009 Milton spent a little over $7 million in one lump sum for CH2M HILL to staff nearly all services save for police and fire. The city had a roughly $23 million budget that year — of which $4 million was a one-time-only payment from Fulton County of taxpayer dollars for a Special Services District account that no longer existed.
That remaining $19 million dollar budget was cut by $1.49 million in June when it became apparent property and sales tax revenues were going to be closer to $17 million.
In fiscal year 2010, revenues were projected to remain stagnant at about $17 million. So over the summer Milton renegotiated its contract with CH2M HILL, lowering the cost to about $5 million.
And in early September, City Council voted 7-0 to end the contract entirely with CH2M HILL.
Mayor Joe Lockwood said after the vote cost was certainly a factor. The large lump sum was a tough pill for council to swallow, especially during these lean budget years.
"Our duty is to look into breaking down those costs," he said. "To look into all aspects of this contract."
In the six months since, Milton has gone about hiring new staff, including a number of former CH2M HILL employees who wanted to stay with the city.
According to city sources, Milton will save a good amount of money with the change, possibly in the millions. A budget with concrete figures has not yet been presented in public.